Starbucks employee Howard Schultz will testify after being threatened with a lawsuit

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L), Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Reuters (L) | Getty Images (R)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agreed to testify at a US Senate hearing on the coffee chain’s union busting after pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, or HELP Committee, was scheduled to vote Wednesday morning on whether to subpoena Schultz, who previously denied a request to appear. Sanders, a Democratic socialist from Vermont, is chairman of the committee.

Schultz is now scheduled to appear in court on March 29.

“Through today’s agreement, our testimony seeks to better understand our partner culture and priorities, including our industry-leading discount offerings and our long-term commitment to support the shared success of all partners,” Starbucks said. statement.

In February, Starbucks’ general counsel wrote in a letter seen by CNBC that since Schultz stepped down as interim CEO in March, it would make sense for another senior executive to testify at a hearing scheduled for March 9. Newcomer Laxman Narasimhan will take over as CEO in April.

“[Schultz] will remain on the board of directors, he is the CEO today and he would be the CEO when we call him … it is clear to everyone that Mr. Schultz will set the policy of that company,” Sanders said at a news conference. took place on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 290 Starbucks locations had voted to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board. More than a year after Starbucks Workers United won its first election, none of the cafes have yet signed a contract with Starbucks.

Since Schultz returned to the company’s leadership in April of last year, Starbucks has taken an aggressive stance in opposing the union movement. The union has filed more than 500 allegations of unfair labor practices with the NLRB, including allegations of retaliatory firings and store closings. The company also raised wages and improved benefits for non-union workers.

Starbucks has filed more than 100 complaints against the union alleging intimidation and harassment.

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